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on March 4, 2017
Delivered on time. An old classic that I bought for a young hipster to show him what a real hipster is!
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on May 25, 2017
thanks
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on April 5, 2017
Must read material about the Beat generation.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon March 12, 2009
"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!"

This was my first introduction to Jack Kerouac. I found this book to be fantastic! For those like me who have heard of Kerouac and "On The Road" but really do not know what it is about I will provide a brief synopsis without giving too much away. It is the story of Sal Paradise (substitute for Kerouac) and his friend, Dean Moriarty (modeled on Kerouac's friend) and their late 1940s cross country searches for "it", music, sex, liquor...life, as they know it.

Those who have read my other reviews may be surprised at my gushing praise for this classic of the Beat Generation. The life style described in this book is, in my opinion, utterly disgusting. What makes this book great, to my taste, is the writing style. It is a fast paced, stream of consciousness description of totally irresponsible, hedonistic behavior. I would not recommend this life style to anyone but I do recommend the book to any fan of great writing with the maturity to avoid the siren call to take to the road.
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on February 19, 2017
Jack Kerouac’s writing is gaunt and transparent, and this is his genius. No wasted verbs or adjectives, no necessity for alliteration, no long-drawn out explanations, Kerouac just states it as it is with no frittering of words; ‘And before me was the great raw bulge and bulk of my American continent; somewhere far across, gloomy, crazy New York was throwing up its cloud of dust and brown steam. There is something brown and holy about the East; and California is white like washlines and emptyheaded – at least that’s what I thought then’

Isn’t that magical? Kerouac writes in a stream of consciousness, giving the impression of a mind at work, bouncing from one observation or reflection to another, expressing a simple flow of speculation. It is absolutely pure and unadulterated, and when you read the lines ‘There is something brown and holy about the East’ you can’t help but feel that the author’s nailed it. He’s given a full description of New York, Detroit and Chicago in just nine words. This is such subtle and exquisite writing. Nobody could write like that nowadays. It would take three undernourished chapters for any other writer to reach the conclusion that New York is brown and holy.

Jack Kerouac’s internal monologue bleeds, leaks and oozes onto the page – and it truly was one page because typing at about 100 words per minute in an explosion of gifted energy, he found replacing regular sheets of paper in his typewriter just interrupted his flow, so On the Road was smashed out on a 120-foot-long scroll of paper stolen for him by Neal Cassady (Dean Moriarty). I think the scroll can still be viewed at the University of Indiana.

‘She was a fetching hunk, a honey-coloured creature, but there was hate in her eyes.’

I love this. He’s clearly attracted to Remi’s girlfriend, Lee Ann, but knows he can’t make a move on her because Kerouac stole his first wife from Remi, and there’s only so many times you can screw a guy over. But the fact that she has hate in her eyes somehow has the effect of making Lee Ann even more attractive. The three of them row out to a rusty old freighter in San Francisco Bay, and Lee Ann takes all her clothes off and lays down to sun herself on the flying bridge with nothing to cover her modesty except hatred and venom

I liked Lee Ann.

You could write forever about Kerouac’s rare literary talent – and many people have. Where does one finish a review like this? I just don’t know. I would liken his writing to the explosion of a star, in which his luminosity increases astonishingly and most of the star's mass is blown away at high velocity, leaving behind the extremely solid and translucent core that is Jack Kerouac.
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on September 24, 2000
This novel is, like most of Kerouac's writings, autobiographical. It is based on the adventures he had continually roaming about the United States in the late 1940's, when he was in his late 20's, by himself and with his friends, especially one Neal Cassady, who grew up in the midwest and southwest with a violently alcoholic hobo father, spending his time in skid row hotels, jails, reform school, riding trains, stealing cars and shoplifting and panhandling and hustling and boozing and screwing females left and right, and generally just having a grand old time. Cassady somehow developed a correspondence while in reform school in New Mexico with one of Kerouac's friends in his intellectual hipster clique at Colombia University in New York and through that friend Kerouac eventually met Cassady.
Anyway, part one of the novel, which is roughly 110 pages, contains some of the best writing anyone has done anywhere at anytime. Kerouac is the narrator in the novel and gives himself the fantastic name of Sal Paradise. The charaters he encounters, the situations in which he is involved, the scenery he passes are all described with extraordinary simplicity, vividness and plausibility. Riding with farmhands, hitchiking with "Eddie", partying in Cheyenne, Wyoming are some of the highlights that lead to Sal catching up in Denver and staying with his friends for a time. And what a wierd group of friends they are! Some are intellectuals, some are not, all enjoy partying, boozing, making love (a euphemism) and so on. Here we first get a full picture of Neal Cassidy, or as he is called in the book, Dean Moriarty. He spends alot of time engaged in conversations about spiritualism with Sal's friend Carlo Marx (in real life Allan Ginsberg)and rushing back and forth between the homes of his two girlfriends, Marylou, a slut, and Camille, decent and respectable, for bouts of fornication. After leaving Denver, he goes to live with his friend Remi and his unpleasant, sexy girlfriend in a shantytown just outside San Francisco and works with Remi as a policeman watching over a barracks full of drunken naval shipyard workers and has a great many adventures. It keeps getting better and better. After his relationship becomes too strained with Remi, he leaves and eventually ends up meeting on a bus in Bakersfield (or was it in Hollywood) a beautiful four foot ten Mexican woman named Terry and they end up having an affair and Kerouac's (Sal's) description of their cotton picking and encounters with Terry's family and other adventures in rural California are extraordinarily plausible and vivid. This is brilliant stuff, baby.
But, of course, he is forced to move on and leave Terry and her seven year old son, Johnny and head back to New York, and the novel moves into part two. After this, until the journey into Mexico at the end of the book, the novel is something of a mixed bag. Sal (Kerouac) eventually hooks up with Dean (Neal Cassady)and Marylou and they begin another journey. Kerouac laboriously describes the scenery in the various states they pass through in Dean's automobile. He often does a beautiful job of it. He describes the places where they stopped to eat and get gas and a few incidents with the police and getting stuck in the mud, and so on. He describes the hitchikers they pick and they all seem quite plausible. But there is a very noticeable lack of action and it is quite a letdown from the great energy of part one. They end up in just outside of New Orleans. They visit Old Bull Lee (in real life William Burroughs) in his shack with his wife, Jane, and their two kids. Old Bull is described, among other things, as being formerly part of a drug smuggling ring in North Africa, a waiter (and bartender too)in Paris, Chicago and New York, a former student of medicine in Vienna, and now is living in this shack as described above, studying Shakespeare among many other subjects, gaining a small income from growing black peas in Texas, and receiving some allowance money from his family which he completely wastes on a violent drug habit. Kerouac handicaps himself, I think, by trying to deal with this figure who is just too bizarre to be real, even if it is a completely accurate portrayal of Burroughs, though he does manage to make Old Bull's implusiveness and drug-induced haze seem very real.
From then on, the story becomes too complicated to describe. The main characters of the story keep rushing back and forth between San Francisco, Denver, New York and then back again, among other places along the way. There is some very decent writing in these parts as during Sal's solitary walk in the black section of Denver and view of the softball game or the poignancy of Dean after getting kicked out by Camille in San Francisco. But there are many times when Kerouac, instead of giving plausible, vivid portrayals, seem to be rushing through the scenes, as during the partying in Denver where Babe Rawlins's aunt is described, or the section where Dean and Sal stay with the coal truck driver woman Frankie, and her poet thirteen year old daughter. There are other times, such as in San Francisco and Chicago where Dean and Sal spend alot of time in bob jazz clubs but instead of describing vividly the estacy of his and Dean's(Neal's) love for jazz, Kerouac becomes rambling and maudlin. There are other times, when Kerouac indulges in spiritualist mumbo jumbo as when he is attempting to describe an out of body experience or some such thing that he had while going mad with hunder on the streets of San Francisco or during the conversation between Dean and Sal in the travel bureau car as it rode from San Francisco to Sacremento. At times Dean becomes a very plausible and sympathetic figure, as when he is telling stories about his boyhood, other times he is a very brutal version of the "Fonz" from "Happy Days," other times he is so violently hyperactive and speaks so strangely that it is very difficult to comprehend him.
But as we come to the last fourty or so pages of the book, Kerouac recovers the solid brilliance of part one. Dean, Sal and their friend Stan make a journey into Mexico, party and smoke marajuana and get drunk and dance with the ladies of a rural brothel, spend the night in a bug-infested jungle, end up in Mexico city where Sal contacts dysentery.
As the book concludes, Dean suddenly becomes a completely vivid figure. I saw all the demons that drove him to such incredible impulsiveness, his incredible womanizing, his decent impulses. I felt like I had very much seen him before.
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on October 25, 2000
In a time reverse way, I felt dated, reading this very modern piece of writing with my postmodern consciousness. At first I felt like I was in the ejector seat of a convertible without seatbelts doing 110 MPG with a drugged or drunk driver commandeering the steering wheel. Well, we the readers, not to mention the characters, are. But all the boozing, drugs, women, and breaking of various Commandments don't have the consequences we'd expect in a more recent novel. Instead, we learn about the holy pursuit of getting high on life, especially as it is lived on the edge. A gang of characters is wrapped like a hurricane's winds around Dean Moriarty whose bipolar (postmodern judgment there) energy flows inspire antic cross country road trips across several years. In a book that's fueled by organic movement, there comes the day when the characters have to move on and away after they have achieved the highest (literally) point in their travels, and that's the ultimate consequence, that the momentum dissipates.
I had put off reading this book, thinking I couldn't handle one long abstract rant, which it isn't, though I'd picked up that impression somewhere. Kerouac sings like Whitman in a voice that is at once poetic and yet concretely journalistic. It is urgent, thus propelling its content, peeling away the past and future. There is artistic skill and knowledge at work in every sentence.
I read the critical introduction last, so it would not color my experience. It is an excellent introduction, one addressing more autobiographical detail than text, but all the same, read it as an afterward; I think Kerouac would want you to live the book unfettered by context.
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on September 21, 2000
Has there been any other writer in this century who loved America, the green and golden rolling landscape, the exuberance, the optimism, the sheer *idea* of America, more than Jack Kerouac? In an endlessly unrolling stream of wild, excited, energetic prose, we're carried across this country with wide eyes, taking in a rush of images and people, all our senses immersed in the journey, becoming part of the American epic ... an America where every individual has the potential to be larger than life, to participate in the joy of being alive. It's all the more powerful for not stinting on the darkness and disappointments we'll encounter along the way; life is all the more precious for them. Not for everyone, obviously, but a book to be experienced by those who seek something more than the Everyday. Does it provide all the answers? No, of course not - it simply reminds us that it's worth going out and looking for those answers, and that the search is as important as whatever truth we eventually find. Highly recommended!
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on November 7, 2002
I had high hopes for On The Road.
We've all heard of it. When I started reading it, a friend commented, "On The Road! You can talk about it in bars and pick up chicks." And who doesn't like the concept of road trips?
I would never want to pick up a chick who liked this book.
Kerouac's writing style is bracingly similar to talking to a severely attention-deficit older brother, who is completely incapable of gauging the level of interest of the listener. The stories aren't connected by anything except chronology (which, in and of itself isn't necessarily a bad thing), but the complete inability to find depth or purpose in anything written makes for a long, dragging read.
The whole book to me felt to be swirling in clouds of marijuana smoke, but you have the privelege of being sober while those telling the stories shake their head from side to side and say "Yeah, man! Yeah!" to cover for their inability to communicate, you know man, that FEELING man, yeah.
By the end of Kerouac's long, drawn out story-- which is more or less just an homage to his travelling companion, on whom he had a clear and obvious crush-- I found myself not only not interested in anything labelled 'beat,' but strongly wanting to avoid it.
Kerouac: I'd say don't bother. If you want beat, go with Burroughs, who's both articulate AND interesting.
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on January 7, 2003
Reading this so called "literature" was a complete chore for me. I had a hard time getting into it, and just forced myself to continue reading JK's supposed masterpiece.
There is no real plot, it's about some selfish, slacker types that travel around the country looking for the next best thing.
The narrator, Sal Paradise, is the exception. Supposedly, Dean Moriarty is based on Neal Cassidy, JK's real life side kick. I know and am unfortunately related to people like this guy..not a selfless bone in his body. What is too like? JK's annoying style of mindless chit chat that just seems to make almost no sense. I abhor the fact that there is no use of correct grammar here. I guess this is what it takes to create a literary classic.
1. Use little or no grammar rules
2. Create characters that people just want to smack around
3. Have no plot, and just aimlessly spew out words that make
no sense.
It's your decision. It took me a long time to get through this and feel I wasted so much of it. Highly disappointed.
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